Magic mushrooms induce sustained personality changes

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
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Johns Hopkins researchers have been studying the effects of hallucinogenics on personality. In their newest research, the scientists found psilocybin in so called magic mushrooms can produce lasting changes in personality, which include increased imagination, open mindedness, feelings and aesthetics.

In the study, one dose of magic mushrooms led to personality changes in 60 percent of 52 participants, which lasted up to a year.

The scientists speculate one dose of the hallucinogenic could induce lasting personality change that they say becomes difficult as people get older.

In a previous study, psilocybin was found to lead to increased spirituality and positive behavioral changes.

“Normally, if anything, openness tends to decrease as people get older,” says study leader Roland R. Griffiths, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.”

Mystical experience from hallucinogen changes personality

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The researchers found only participants who had “a sense of interconnectedness with all people and things accompanied by a sense of sacredness and reverence”, a.k.a. a “mystical experience’ underwent personality changes.

For the study, published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology, the participants engaged ingested magic mushrooms in two to five eight-hour drug sessions.

Consecutive sessions were separated by at least three weeks. The study participants were told they would be given either a moderate or high dose of psilocybin during one session. Neither the session monitors nor those being studied knew when.

All of the participants were considered psychologically healthy. They donned eye masks, laid on a couch, listened to music through headphones and were asked to focus on their experience.

The personality changes seen from a single dose of magic mushrooms might have a therapeutic application for cancer patients; something Griffiths is exploring.

He also warns that the study was well-controlled and the participants were supervised closely. He says under other conditions, there is a potential for harm from taking magic mushrooms. In the day long sessions, some of the participants became anxious, but there did not seem to be any lingering negative effects.

The study showed psilocybin in magic mushrooms can change personality. In the research, participants became more open minded, creative and imaginative from taking the hallucinogen.

Image credit: Wikimedia commons

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Magic mushrooms have long been popular with some drug users. Magic mushrooms are hallucinogenic fungi primarily of the genus Psilocybe. There are five primary substances found in these mushrooms which make them famous for their effects on the mind, including euphoria, lethargy, increased appreciation of music and colour, amplified emotions and visual and aural distortion. These substances are tryptamines, related to the neurotransmitter serotonin. Now, one analysis finds that the same mushrooms could have uses in psychotherapy. The study discovered that patients who were given a managed dose of psilocybin were more open about their feelings and self-reported better life satisfaction over one year later. <a title="Controlled magic mushroom doses could have psychotherapeutic uses."